The Gastronomic Capital of Spain jury ultimately chose Almeria, in Andalusia, as the winner. The panel summarised their decision, saying: “Among Almeria’s main strengths are impeccable institutional support, great popular backing with more than 1000 menus joining the project, excellent seafood and land products, a revolutionary sustainable production model, and a creative culinary approach that combines tradition and innovation.”
After 7 years of different nominations, winning the gastronomic capital award demonstrates the efficiency and dynamism of the platform that promotes food tourism. As the judges commented:
“Cities that participate in the competition increase visitor numbers, increase turnover in the hotel sector, and make their mark on the Spanish food map thanks to an extraordinary echo of their activities in the media.”
The panel valued “the Almerian miracle, the development of a vegetable garden capable of supplying all of Europe, where water is a mighty treasure that has created a way of life. It’s worth noting that one in every three families in Europe regularly consumes products made in Almeria. Producers are firmly committed to using technology that’s compatible with environmental sustainability – earth in a sea of plastic.”
Speaking about the area’s nomination, the panel explained that it was the only candidate that remained after another hopeful was eliminated after failing to meet requirements. “The proposed schedule of activities is incredible. More than 300 activities have been planned, filling the Almerian and greater Andalusian calendar with food-related events. This is the strongest indicator of the health and vitality of the event.”
Delicious Almerian food.
Almeria has a unique and exceptional culinary culture that combines land and sea. In 5 Lonjas, you’ll find seafood to suit all tastes – the majestic Garrucha red prawn, calamari, cuttlefish, octopus, red snapper, and sardines. There are the tinned and salted products – tuna, mackerel, dried octopus, and escabeche. There are cured meats, cheeses, Serón ham, and lamb, not to mention gurullos (a type of pasta), noodles, and Almeria’s famous migas (a savoury dish containing fried breadcrumbs). Don’t forget the Mediterranean trilogy of wine, water, and bread. You’ll also be able to sample rice dishes, with beans or fish and seafood; there are dishes with porridge, tuna with onion, soups and stews, wheat casseroles and broths. They all taste of Almeria.
Almeria, the kingdom of tapas.
Tapas have a starring role in the area’s culinary story. They’re a sign of identity and Almeria considers itself to be a centre of excellent tapas. It’s an interesting and authentic way of enjoying both traditional and innovative cooking and today is a well-established habit and undeniable tourist attraction.
The concept of going for tapas (“tapeo”) has been rooted in Almeria for centuries. It provides an opportunity, at a reasonable price, to enjoy the best and most varied fish, traditional dishes like migas or olla de trigo (a wheat casserole), and grilled dishes that today go way beyond the “pincho, pork, or pork fat” option of long ago. €6 or €7 will feed you well in Almeria – the price of 3 beers and their respective tapas of migas, octopus or patatas a lo pobre (potatoes, onion, garlic and peppers) with a fried egg, for example. Even the history of Almeria’s bars will fill you up – some are more than 100 years old. You’ll find Almeria’s excellent tapas culture alive and well in any bar.
The region offers many dishes that you will find all over Spain, like Russian salad, fried fish, meatballs, cured olives, and meat in sauces. Almeria also offers very local dishes that are unique to the region, like salted foods, cuttlefish in sauce, tabernero (a type of vegetable stew served on a piece of bread), patatas bravas (potatoes in spicy sauce), migas, garlicky grilled meat, snails and pigs’ trotters.
Almeria has enjoyed the support of all local institutions in tendering its candidacy for the 2019 Gastronomic Capital. In this sense, Susana Diaz (President of the Andalusian Junta), said “Almeria deserves to be Gastronomic Capital. The Andalusian Government will continue to be an ally giving all its support to Almeria. We will do our utmost to see Almería’s gastronomic treasures promoted on a global level.”
Gabriel Amat, president of the Almerian Regional Government, highlights that “Almeria has a broad culinary richness and a varied culinary history behind it”. Meanwhile, Mayor of Almeria, Ramon Fernandez Pacheco, recognised the innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship that exists in the region and underlined that “this is a viable project that boasts natural products of excellent quality, the advantage of being able to combine sea and land, and the security offered by a highly-qualified professional sector.”